A while back, I heard that scientists had invented a medicine which makes people forget painful memories. I was charmed by the idea. I took a long and hard look at my life, trying to figure out which memories were worth keeping and which I wanted to forget. Initially, I was not thinking of war at all, not believing that any medicine could ever take those memories away. But then again: What if? Would I want the days I had walked on shattered window glass through my city Sana’a, in Yemen, to be erased?
Ever since I arrived in the Netherlands, I’ve wanted to do everything to embrace the changes in my life and to carve out a comfort inside the chaos. My photos help me to figure out how everything happened – to figure out the war, the escape, the transition, and the unfamiliar. Creating my work enabled me to tackle the trauma and to confront it on my own terms. My images and the words serve as a record, a healing method to register and validate my emotions and experiences during the transition into the unknown. I needed a distraction from this storm that hurt my mind.
Photography is a beautiful distraction, and it has a quality in organising that chaos. Photography functions as a mediator to realise the truth in the harsh reality of the present.
It’s not easy to talk about trauma while you’re living in it because you can’t recognise it. However, I wanted to offer my own version of the story, one that is infused with my resilient spirit, unbroken, unfailing and devoid of self-pity. I wanted to climb the fences, and I did.
Andrew’s identity story
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Caryn's identity story
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